7/03/2016

1930 Gibson TG-1 Flattop Tenor Guitar





This is a customer repair guitar and it has been a "real project" to get it back together and going. It must be thankful for the effort, however, because this has a really full, gorgeous tone, with the same featherweight build and x-bracing as an old Kel Kroydon. I'm dating this at 1930 (despite the absence of any serial/factory numbering) because that's when this "new" style of TG-1 was built (the '29 TG-1s borrowed the TG-0 body shape) and this one has the finish style (dark brown with a tiny sunburst), thin fretboard/binding style, and bracing style of a '30-'31 build.

Other specs will be familiar to Gibson enthusiasts as this is basically an L-1/L-00 body with a tenor neck and bridge location. It's interesting to see these "transitional" instruments, too, because they favor the aesthetic and detail stylings of Gibson's '20s instruments but the more modern construction features and sound of their '30s instruments. This puts them right in a "sweet spot."


This tenor was a trainwreck when it came in -- every brace on the top was loose (with a couple missing), there were multiple "split brace" old repairs and cruddy old brace "reglue" repairs, there were small bullet holes in the back, missing back bits (and surfaces that didn't want to align), and a ton of open hairline cracks all over the guitar (except for the sides). It was also disgustingly filthy (the instrument's finish was grey when it came in), though it's always wonder what a good cleaning can do.

My work included fixing all that decrepit stuff, cutting and installing a new rosewood bridge and bone saddle, a fret level/dress, and setup. It plays on-the-dot with 1/16" overall at the 12th fret and I've strung it up in "standard tuning" CGDA with 32w, 22w, 14, 9 gauges.


The pearl-inlaid headstock is a classy feature and the truss rod works beautifully -- the neck is straight as an arrow and feels fast. 4:1 geared pegs are also a nice original feature.


This has the original smaller Gibson frets in a Brazilian rosewood board. I like the look and feel of these thinner boards and their delicate binding, but once they get over the body they can be a pain to keep tidy during a neck reset.



As you can see, it's definitely been played-in!


My replacement bridge isn't on-spec with old ones, but it's quite practical for the player with its drop-in, compensated saddle and slightly wider stance (better hold) on the top. I found some grungy old cream pins in my bins to fit the aesthetic, too.


When I first strung this up, the original bridge went flying off, and I decided to do away with the frustration of dealing with a cracked-up reglue job.

The pearl dots on this new one are just for show.




The back is just too absurd and has a number of big cracks that made getting everything "on plane" rather difficult with the distortions of time added to them. Fortunately, doing small bits at a time and going slow is the solution to that.




This missing-bits giant crack had a lot of jagged edges that were quite frustrating to deal with. There's a mix of old fixes and new fixes in here, but thanks to a bunch of cleating on the inside, it's stable.


The yucked-finish "yellow" patch on the back is interesting.








Finally, a new ebony endpin completes the project.

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